Caraga PNP to revive probe, search of Surigao City Banker kidnapped two years ago

One of the last remaining notices posted in Surigao City calling the public to tell whereabouts of still missing Surigao Banker Johnson Cuiting (Photo: Ben Serrano)
The new police leadership of Caraga Police Regional Director Chief Supt. Reynaldo S. Rafal today ordered revival of the investigation of the longest kidnapping case in history so far, that of Surigao City Banker Johnson Cuiting who until now after more than two years he was allegedly kidnapped still nowhere to be found.

”I have directed my R2 and R7 to revive the Cuiting Case, we will have case conference this week Cuiting case”. Rafal said.

No words yet from present Surigao del Norte PNP Director Emmanuel Talento, But Talento before Rafal’s order came out claimed his office is not the one presently investigating the Cuiting case saying Manila-based PACER is taking over the investigation.

During the time of then Surigao del Norte Police Provincial Director Senior Supt Gilbert De la Cruz Cruz , massive manhunt and search operations were conducted.

Cruz and his men found skeletal remains of a man in a cave outside Surigao City but forensic experts findings later found out the remains do not matched with Cuiting’s DNA.

“Kahit nga pagkuha ng DNA samples ni Mr. Cuiting pahirapan pa. Kami pa mismo mga pulis naghirap maghanap kasi parang mahirap kumuha kooperasyon. Pero malapit na kami hopefully matukoy na namin sino itiong mga kidnappers at mastermind at eventually mahanap namin si Sir Cuiting ” police colonel Cruz once told this writer in a chance interview before.

Cruz said it needs patience, hard work and consistency to investigate the Cuiting kidnapping case.

Former Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra who was also very active in locating Cuiting said Cuiting kidnapping incident was not the first time saying many Fil-Chinese traders in the city were kidnapped in the past when he was not yet City Mayor then.

”Many were kidnapped months before every conduct of local elections but all of them were released after allegedly paying huge amounts of ransom money. Those kidnapped and their immediate families do not want to talk about it anymore” Casurra told this writer back then at the height of search efforts made by the city government then.

Cruz suspected the 50 year old banker was already dead and vowed he will find the kidnapped businessman out of his pity to the helpless banker dead or alive.

Cruz belied reports by some foreign wires service that Cuiting was seen alive and well in Hong Kong after his family supposedly paid ransom money in exchange for his freedom.

But for unknown reasons due allegedly to political pressures, Cruz was transferred to Laguna in Luzon to head the Laguna Provincial Police Office.

Cruz was one of the founding police official and former Special Operations head of the now-defunct Presidential Anti-Crime Commission (PACC). Cruz solved many high crimes and kidnappings in the past.

At that time Cuiting was kidnapped, Cruz was not yet the Surigao del Norte PNP Director.

Cuz suspected Cuiting’s disappearance has something to do with his business.

Cuiting was kidnapped last January 7, 2009 past 9 p.m. right from his home at Ceniza Heights Subdivision, Surigao City .by four Tagalog speaking but Visayan-Muslim accent armed men wearing black jackets, ski-masks and gloves

According to the testimony of Cuiting’s wife, she suspected the suspects were waiting for their arrival outside their home.

She said, she and her husband went to a massage parlor in the city for a massage.

According to police report, when Cuiting and wife, Dr. Bliss Cuiting who is a Cabuana arrived in their huge subdivision home, the suspects who were waiting outside plugged them dowm and ordered the couple to go inside the Cuiting house.

Once inside, the suspects hogged tied all members of the Cuiting household including caregivers of Cuiting’s mother, the original owner and founder of Rural Bank of Placer, Inc. who was also inside the house at that time of the kidnapping incident.

Cuiting’s mother died last year 2010 without saying his son again.

The armed men burgled Johnson Cuiting’s home taking the victim’s cash money at a vault inside the home, jewelries and personal belongings such as mobile phones.

After taking all valuable items and cash money, the armed men ordered Cuiting to board his white Toyota Hi-Lux Pick up. Cuiting’s vehicle was later recovered by authorities abandoned at the outskirts of Surigao City.

At the time of his abduction, Cuiting was the President of the Rural Bank of Placer, Inc.

On September 15, 2009, -more than eight months after the crime- Cuiting’s sisters held a press conference to express disappointment over the “stalled” investigation, and denounced the mismanaged turn-over of their brother’s case to the Surigao City Police Office.

One of the most consistent Cuiting siblings who wanted their kidnapped brother located alive or dead was Mrs. Nenita Cuiting-Carvajal who suspected the more than two years disappearance, kidnapping of her brother may have something to do with the bank business.

Nenita claimed their mother, she and other Cuiting sisters together with her brother Johnson were original founders and owners of Rural Bank of Placer, Inc. which only has one branch back then but now it already grew to nearly a dozen branches.

Carvajal said her siblings raised millions of pesos of ransom money through contributions of surviving Cuiting sisters but kidnappers who demanded P10-M ransom money suddenly stopped communicating with the Cuiting sisters after Cuiting’s Globe mobile phone subscription then in the hands of the kidnappers was ordered cut-off. (PNA/Ben Serrano)

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